Day 2 - Sunday 12th August – Penzance to St. Columb Major
Daily Distance = 54 miles (expected = 44)
Total Distance = 80 miles (expected = 68)
Weather: Wet and windy in the morning, brighter later. SW wind.
Contour:Flat for 10-15 miles, then up-down-up-down.
We set off at 8am, and had a good mornings cycle, although constant drizzle meant we got wet very quickly. The road was flat for the first 10-15 miles, and with the wind on our backs we made good progress.
The National Cycle Network (NCN) routes are difficult to follow particularly through towns, we had trouble in both Hayle and Truro. They then take you along a long off road stretch around Bissoe which was covered in gravel. This is extremely difficult to cycle on, since the wheels spin, and you always feel slightly out of control. Having said that the off-road cycle routes tended to be flatter.
We stopped just before Truro for lunch in a Brewster pub of jacket potato with cheese.
The afternoon was much harder, and more what we were expecting from Cornwall. Very hilly, with steep climbs reducing our cycling speed at times to just 3 mph. Downhill was also difficult, on the small country lanes. You cannot see far ahead so it is hard to tell where the road is turning. This makes you overcautious, and the steepness means you are constantly braking hard.
Just before Zelah we came to a junction with the A30, having cycled for many miles on a quiet country lane. The traffic was horrendous, with cars from both directions as well as a car by the side of us and four lined up to come out from the opposite junction. We wanted to go straight on, and eventually were waved on by the car opposite and one which stopped coming up the hill on the main road to let us out. I went to go, and just at the last second looked the other way on the main road, only to see a white Vectra coming hurtling towards me. I managed to grab my brakes just as he whizzed about an inch past my front tyre. He was not going to let us out whatever happened, he would have rather killed me than use his brakes, and very nearly got his wish.
We arrived at the B&B in St Columb Major at around 4.30pm. The town is a pit. A new bypass has drained the life from the town, which has just died on it’s feet. The B&B, ‘The Barley Sheaf’, was even worse, it was as much as the owner could do to let us in the door. We had no tea or coffee facilities, no television in my room, no towels, no soap or shampoo. The toilet, shower and bathroom looked as if they hadn’t been washed for years. The owner told us the brewery were closing him down in a few weeks. It was obvious why! We had single rooms, with a shared bathroom. The bikes were chained up outside the pub, amongst the left over food and split rubbish bags. £15 per person.
We wandered round the town looking for somewhere to eat, since we didn’t feel safe eating at ‘The Barley Sheaf’. We eventually settled, and got into another pub called the ‘Ring of Bellz’. The meal was very nice, chilli-con-carni with cheese, followed by apple and caramel flan. The meal was made better by our table position, at the bottom of the stairs leading to the bar.
I felt very depressed tonight. We cycled 10 miles further than we should have done today, because of my miscalculation on the NCN routes. We have more hills tomorrow and then worse to come in Devon. I am missing Emma, Abi and Lucy, and the town and B&B made me feel worse. This trip has suddenly lost its appeal, and the reasons for doing it seem very flimsy.
No punctures and no breakdowns, but my brake pads are getting smaller.